Monday, August 31, 2009

Is It Too Early to Get in on Some Action?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 8:08 PM

How soon until we see the first "Wamp, There it is" headline?


If I Had My Way, Mike Turner Would be Governor

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 7:17 PM

So, I'm at brunch yesterday at the Gold Rush, which is, I'm sorry, just hands down the most
It's not too late to draft Mike Turner, right?
  • It's not too late to draft Mike Turner, right?
awesome place to spend a Sunday morning when one cannot spend it sandwiched between Dominic West and Paula Deen and one of the people at the table asks if it's not awkward that one of the other people at the table supports McWherter and I support McMillan.

Well, this is news to me, of course, since I a.) have not yet decided which gubernatorial candidate I like and b.) who the hell cares who I support for governor (except, I will say, that when Woods started pontificating on how people with matching genitalia should support each other and why wasn't I whole hog for McMillan, it was one of the greatest days in Pith history and made me love him just a little)?

But then I thought, who would my dream candidate for Governor be?

And the answer hit me.  Mike Turner.

Here's what Mike Turner's got going for him.

1. He really loves being a Democrat. Who the hell knows what any Democratic politician in Tennessee means by "Democrat" but whatever it is, Turner relishes it.

2. He picks out cute young guys to run for office and let's face it, if we're not going to get the state legislators to stop acting like it's the Playboy Mansion up there, at least let's throw some people into the mix that make it a little tempting for the straight women to screw up in the same way the straight men do.

3. And most importantly, if Mike Turner were governor, I would have something to write about every day. One day I'd be all, "Yeah, damn straight.  Woo hoo!" and the next day I'd be all "Holy sweet Jesus, how could this have happened?!" And maybe even about the same incident.

It would be awesome. So, that's my endorsement. Mike Turner for Governor. No, he's not running, but weren't you, for just a second, excited about the Governor's race in a way you hadn't yet been?

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Tennessean Editorial Page Desperation Move of the Month...And the Winner is...

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 9:40 AM

...someone calling himself Alan S. Boyd M.D., whose op-ed on health care in today's paper is breathtakingly lame in both concept and execution. Opening with a bizarre assertion that "it's likely this nation will eventually adopt socialized health care," Boyd takes the reader on an acerbic journey through its tragic consequences: more uninsured patients, fewer physicians, less charity, less patient advocacy, a decline in complex medicine, and no more medical research.

The thing I'm having a hard time figuring out is whether this is uncultivated sarcasm or inept satire. Is Boyd the uninformed right-wing commiephobe a literal reading of the piece would suggest, or is this just a badly executed Swiftian parody of anti-reform obstructionism? And more to the point, is The Tennessean really that hard up for op-ed contributions?

Nashville Suxxx...or Does It?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 7:46 AM

The KKK comment was hyperbole for the sake of humor, cowboykiller. We're pretty sure none of our local GOPers ever burned a cross or lynched anyone. Well kinda sure.
  • The KKK comment was hyperbole for the sake of humor, cowboykiller. We're pretty sure none of our local GOPers ever burned a cross or lynched anyone. Well kinda sure.
Here at Pith we tend to find a lot to complain about, from nursing home abuse to political chicanery to gun-happy legislators to those crazy birthers. But the truth is, we love it here in Nashville! We just find it much more urgent to raise awareness of criminal activity, ignorance and malfeasance than to chatter on about our lovely breakfast, terrific neighbors, fabulous co-workers or beautiful greenways. As they say, no news is good news, so conversely, we can deduce that good news is no news, at least for the most part. Which is why we gasped in horror late last week when we noticed a couple of Pith comments by cowboykiller999 touting his brand new blog, which features the header, "NASHVILLE, WTF!!!" To wit:
Nashville sucks, let's admit it. From the country music wanna-be's and the KKK inspired politicians all the way to the fucking restaurants and bars, I cringe when I wake up each morning. I've had a condo here for about 5 years now, but I think of it more like a jail sentence; in the sense that living here has made me appreciate the outside world and the fact that turning on the radio in this God-forsaken hell hole is like getting raped in the ear. Anyway, this blog is for everyone like me, anyone who's been to Nashville and seen the shit-storm they call a city and for the people who have been dragged here for one reason or another (assuming you're not stupid enough to want to move here).
Cowboykiller, we sure hope for your sake you don't meet Trace Adkins in a dark alley.
  • Cowboykiller, we sure hope for your sake you don't meet Trace Adkins in a dark alley.
Oh dear Lord, what have started? Please forgive us! The obvious question, of course, is, this: If cowboykiller hates Nashville so much, why does he live here? Or is it that Nashville provides the perfect setting in which to indulge his misanthropic nature? To his credit, at least this nattering nabob of Nashville negativism provides you the opportunity to defend our fair city (or to share your own Nashville horror stories). Contact him at, and he'll post your thoughts on his blog. Tell him Pith sent ya.

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Jackson Day: A Laughable Event

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 7:30 AM

Democrats talked up unity at their big Jackson Day fundraiser. The governor called it a "solidarity event." Who are they kidding? Everybody should have fallen on the ballroom floor laughing as Al Gore and Bill Clinton gave impassioned pleas for health care reform in their speeches. "Democrats, you stay in there with your congressmen and you get this done," Clinton declared. Um, which congressmen would those be, Bill? Certainly not Lincoln Davis, John Tanner, Bart Gordon or Jim Cooper. They're all in the category of foot-draggers in the House. All Tanner can talk about is how he wants to go sooooo slowly. It's not clear whether Davis disagrees with the teabaggers that the president wants to pull the plug on grandma. Gordon and Cooper are all for reform, as long as it doesn't cut into insurance industry profits too much. To the party's executive committee Saturday night, House Democratic Caucus chair Mike Turner was talking tough about knocking off a dozen House Republicans in the 2010 elections. He thinks voters are ready to toss out those wingnuts after a session of far-right foolishness. The problem is, a lot of Democrats voted right along with Republicans on much of this, including guns and abortion. So what's the Democrats' campaign slogan? "Vote for us. We're not quite as crazy as the Republicans?" That's the problem with Tennessee Democrats, and it's a little too obvious to voters. Democrats don't want to hold power to accomplish anything for the state. They just want to hold power. Video from Christian Grantham

Friday, August 28, 2009

Former Scene Writer P.J. Tobia--Smooth Talker Has Stalker, Makes Gawker

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 5:05 PM

P.J. "Crockett" Tobia, as we remember him
  • P.J. "Crockett" Tobia, as we remember him
The Scene's bustling newsroom hasn't been the same since investigative reporter P.J. Tobia, the Sonny Crockett of news journalism, bid us adieu to become an embedded reporter in Afghanistan. Tobia's experiences there have led to several high-profile stories in The Washington Post, The Philadephia Inquirer and, most prestigious of all, The Nashville Scene. So who should pop up on Gawker this afternoon but our beloved Peter John Tobia, regarding a piece he wrote for True/Slant about a story on the Stars and Stripes site concerning the Rendon Group, a company that compiles background profiles on reporters who apply for embeds with the U.S. military. After managing to get a hold of his own Rendon report, Tobia found that the company had been closely monitoring and assessing his writings the way a psychotic jilted-lover stalks his/her ex:
I do think the reports are creepy though. These guys have read almost everything I've written in the last few years, even interviews I've given to local news blogs. Reading this report is like perusing the diary of your stalker. Rendon also classifies certain publication as "left leaning" which I find odd. Most troubling by far is that when S&S asked the military about Rendon, they denied the existence of these reports. I'm holding one of these reports in my hand right now, trust me, it exists. I've also met people who work for The Rendon Group in Kabul. In conversations, they deny that there is any nefarious objective to what they do. "We just help the military figure out what embed is right for a particular reporter," one Rendon employee told me over drinks. "If a reporter is classified as 'negative' they are less likely to go where the action is and more likely to be covering a platoon that guards sandbags in Herat."
We particularly found their concern about his work for a left-leaning publication entertaining, since here at the Scene offices, where pinkos like Woods, Ridley, Hargrove and myself ride roughshod through the halls, Tobia was considered just a smidge to the left of Rush Limbaugh. Which, of course, only made us love him more.

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Should Governors Fill U.S. Senate Vacancies?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 1:20 PM

Ted Kennedy's death surfaces once again the issue of how states deal with Senate vacancies. Massachusetts happens to be one of just five states that require a special election and do not allow a governor to appoint a temporary replacement (the other four are Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon and Wisconsin). Of the remaining states, 35 allow the governor to fill the seat until a subsequent general election, while 10 combine a gubernatorial appointment with provisions for a special election.

Here in Tennessee the governor appoints a replacement without restrictions until the next general election. The last such occasion was in 1992 when Ned McWherter named his aide Harland Mathews to fill the Senate seat vacated by Al Gore. I say "without restrictions" because four states that allow governors to fill vacancies do so with restrictions on the party of the appointee. In Arizona the governor has to appoint a someone from the same party as the departed senator, and in Hawaii, Utah, and Wyoming the governor must choose from a list of candidates provided by the party of the prior senator.

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Yikes! Harmony Korine's Nashville-Shot Trash Humpers Screens at Toronto and New York Film Festivals

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 11:42 AM

The last time Harmony Korine shot a feature in Nashville--Gummo, back in 1997--directors Werner Herzog and Bernardo Bertolucci hailed his genius, while critics Jonathan Rosenbaum and Janet Maslin agreed (for once) it was the year's worst movie. Twelve years later, Korine has returned with a Nashville-shot project that sounds even more divisive--and it's a featured selection at two of the most prestigious film festivals on the continent, both starting next month. Shot locally in near-total secrecy with much of the cast in masks, Trash Humpers was apparently conceived as a kind of found-footage artifact, as if the film had just been discovered. "This episodic tale of a band of cretins who go around brutalizing dolls, molesting plant life and--yes--rubbing up against garbage cans is outrageous, scary, hilarious, distinctly American and oddly touching--as well as Harmony Korine's purest film yet," says the blurb for the New York Film Festival, where Trash Humpers screens Oct. 1.

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The DREAM Act Fixes a Problem Many Folks are Not Aware is a Problem

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 8:19 AM

Last weekend, I got a chance to sit down with a couple of young activists who are working to try to pass the DREAM Act. This legislation would allow kids who are undocumented, but who have lived here most of their lives to have a path to legal status.

I hope it goes without saying how incredibly cruel and stupid it is that we have kids who have lived in Tennessee almost their whole lives (the kids I met with have been here since they were toddlers), who speak with Tennessee accents, who've gone to our schools and graduated from them, who are in danger of being deported to countries they can't, in many cases, even remember, and all because some of "us" don't believe that they are a part of "us," even if they've been our friends and neighbors almost their whole lives.

Regardless of how you feel about adults coming to this country illegally, I would hope that we are not yet at the point as a nation where we knowingly punish children for the sins of their parents.

So, these kids hope that, with the passage of the DREAM Act, they will have a means to go to college at in-state tuition rates, or join the military, and then become a legal part of this country.  (As I said at Tiny Cat Pants, it's really bitterly funny that we work so hard to make lives miserable and kick out kids who have such a deep love of this country.)

I found my meeting with these kids heartbreaking and so I called my dad to talk about it*and he was all, "Well, they can just join the military. That's what kids in that situation do. They join the military and when they get out, they get to be legal residents."

"No, Dad, that's why they need the DREAM Act," I said.

"Well, that's stupid. I don't think that's right, Betsy. You're good enough to serve our country but not good enough to be a legal part of it? You'd better check on that."

So, I asked around and a lot of folks are under the impression that joining the military is already a way for kids who are stuck in this situation to have a path to legal residency and the hope of citizenship.

I then went straight to a guy who would know, Elias Feghali at the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). And he said that while these kids can indeed join the military, the military is not a path to legal residency. In fact, there really is no path for these kids to take, no way for them to rectify a situation they did nothing to cause.

The DREAM Act is intended to give those kids a couple of ways, one of which a lot of folks think they already have.

*Some folks have requested more footnoting and more of me checking in with men every once in a while to make sure I'm not off track. This footnote and this phone call are a part of my efforts to meet those demands. I'm sorry to report, though, that the person best able to assure you that my dad is a man is my mom, who is a woman. But I will try to get a man to vouch for her if you need her to vouch for my dad so that he can vouch for me having made an effort to find a man to vet my thoughts. Just let me know.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nashville's "John School" Observed by CNN

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 3:22 PM

A story on has highlighted a "john school" in Nashville: a one-day program for first-time offenders busted for hiring prostitutes. There are about 50 similar programs around the country, and our local chapter is likely as average as the next. Single men, married men, older men, younger men, black men, and white men were all described as being in attendance. Only open to men buying sex from an adult, the program is staffed by city officials and volunteers, healthcare workers and former prostitutes involved with the Magdalene House program. It's held in a church, and the way the article describes it, it seems that shame is the only consequence the johns understand. Some men were not able to look directly at a former prostitute as she told her story of childhood rape, and recidivism rates drop sharply when their names are added to a registry. (Nashville's program publically displays their mug shots, though there are no statistics available regarding the re-offense rate of program participants specifically.) Conversations about prostitution are more than conversations about sex. We're talking about victimization, autonomy, abuse, and loneliness. Prostitution is not a victimless crime, because for every man or woman that enters the profession willingly, there are far more people suffering from abuse and addiction with no clear way out. The johns mentioned in the story are equal parts pitiful and frustrating. Even the man who seems to get it, who feels remorse for his crime, is quoted as saying, "These girls are somebody's daughters. I have a daughter." They are somebody's daughters. But they are also grown women who have always been seen as belonging to someone other than themselves.

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